A Fresh Start for 2019!

I think we’re all ready for a fresh start after the holidays each year. By fresh start, I don’t mean getting rid of everything….more that I prefer to refresh, renew and repurpose what I already have, even what’s worked previously but for some reason has fallen by the wayside in the middle of … well, life. I try not to set goals that honestly set me up for failure, especially when it comes to exercise. Why? Ok, I’m not proud of the fact that I’m not athletic… one of the top posts here was written in the first year- it’s called Instinct or Fitness which regales a few of my various mishaps. Not included was a more recent splat on a sidewalk in upscale Georgetown DC. I literally tripped on an uneven sidewalk about an hour after I arrived with my family. I had made reservations for our first tour- a moonlight ride through our nation’s capitol of the iconic monuments that evening. We had to re-schedule the wonderful tour due to my less-than-graceful splat  on the sidewalk! In fact, our first tour of D.C. was in a large rescue vehicle, the EMT’s graciously let all five of us ride to the hospital! I ended up with a few stitches on my forehead, a seriously sprained arm and a torn meniscus! Once again my fall-back exercise after I finished rehab was the only exercise I’ve ever been able to actually do and that I truly enjoy- Yoga! I have literally worn out 2 yoga DVDs and protect my third one like it is gold! The DVD is from Gaiam and is called Yoga AM by Rodney Yee.

With my first knee surgery, also from an injury, I recovered full rotation of my knee and I believe due to this yoga practice. My yoga practice has been sporadic but always effective and enjoyable for almost 20 years now!

A few years ago, I also became intrigued with the health benefits of meditation, using guided courses but inserting special Scriptures when appropriate to enhance my own meditation. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 19: 14 ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer.’ This practice of meditation became critical to my well being when I underwent a series of radiation treatments in 2017 to shrink a non-cancerous tumor on my carotid artery. Controlled breathing combined with meditation on special scriptures enabled my anxious and claustrophobic self to not only endure but sail through the treatments with very few side effects! As it turns out, my balance had been affected by my condition which could explain the falls I had! (Finding underlying health issues is important too!) Still.  I’ll never be a great athlete. Finding exercises I will actually do is a priority– yoga is one of those! So! Imagine my delight when Gaiam, a leader in these healthy practices of yoga and meditation along with fine products shared an offer with me, that I could pass along to you! I  think yoga and meditation are great for any age- but especially for folks of…ahem… a certain age like me! It improves breathing, circulation, flexibility, posture and is uplifting and energizing. Best of all, many types of yoga are low impact and can be done in your own home, at your own pace and level of capability, no matter what age you may be.  I am thrilled to extend an offer to you for 19% off all yoga and meditation products along with free shipping on all orders over $49 from Gaiam to jumpstart your 2019 goals! I think you will find yoga and meditation require very little equipment to get started. The main thing is to find exercises you enjoy and will do, yoga, gardening or… kickboxing? I for one am grateful that a yoga DVD from Gaiam is where I began. And it’s where I’m beginning the New Year; for my health and well being will once again start with my Gaiam yoga DVD. All the best with your own fresh start in 2019!

Love y’all, Camellia

* Click through this link to get your 19% discount with Gaiam

Christmas Cards!

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Even if the wreath is on the door, the gift buying has commenced and the Christmas Shortbread dough is in the freezer waiting to be baked- the season really begins for me when the first Christmas Card arrives! One of life’s sweetest gifts are those family photographs taken months before and made into Family Christmas Cards! Over the years they’ve become cherished memories. We are blessed to be on the Christmas Card list of surely the World’s Most Beautiful Families. Sometimes the cards come with a winter scene of a nice young couple,  a beautiful baby, tiny sisters or even a poignant photograph of a young girl with red shoes that is worthy of it’s own portrait.

Sometimes the cards come with gold foil lined envelopes and heavy beautiful card stock. Some cards are of a vintage scene. Some have a photograph of the cute family pets or of a child sitting with Santa Claus. Some are whimsical beribboned and hand painted.

I love them all! It’s been a tradition for years, to save up the Christmas Cards. On Christmas Day, we look at them, exclaim about how nice it was to get them; then, I enjoy making a call or writing a thank you note that we’ve been kept on the list for the beautiful Family Christmas Cards.   I have to admit for various reasons- as much as I thoroughly enjoy receiving Christmas Cards and am forever grateful to receive these wonderful cards;  except for One Rare Occasion I’ve never gotten my own act together to send out Christmas Cards. image

Why? because- Our Family Photograph Christmas Card was never a reality. We simply never came up with a decent card worthy family photograph– there is always-

  • one who is the deer in the headlights
  • or blinked at the inopportune moment
  • or who wore the wrong thing
  • stood the wrong way
  • or was the odd one out-
  • was the only one who had on sunglasses or didn’t
  • always statements like –‘You can’t send that one!’
  • It’s sort of horrifying actually.

Now, Southerners are big on heritage and lineage- it’s almost biblical to keep the family tree going with at the very least a church directory photograph! And here we are without a decent Family Photograph, for posterity. Several years ago, we had received an inordinate amount of the World’s Most Beautiful Family Christmas Cards! I came up with a plan- I would send out our very own Family Photograph Christmas Card. We had been to Colorado Springs over Thanksgiving, stayed at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel, even met Reba McIntyre, and had fun on a Sleigh Ice Sculpture! Very Scenic, lots of fun.

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We took a trip up the Broadmoor’s Cog Railway to Pike’s Peak, where a kind soul took a Family Photograph. We all had one thing in common- we all looked awful.   I found the kind of photo cards you insert beautiful family photographs in; I had a dozen photographs done up in black and white to make the World’s Ugliest Family Photograph look even worse and hoped folks who received them would  get a good laugh. Lively Holiday Greetings were written on each -ending with ‘This is the Best Family Photograph we could come up with!’

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I hate to inflict this awful photograph on you- it actually did evoke a good bit of laughter! So,  if you are struggling with all of the Christmas Card, Gift buying and Holiday rush- Inject some laughter into it! I think the new term is to have a Scruffy Christmas! 

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Unlike all Southern tales- which are part truth, part myth and part outright lies- this one is the whole truth– after all, Santa is keeping that list!

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are from our personal collection, either loaned to Camellia’s Cottage or sadly taken by me- and should not be used without permission.

A Fall Gathering…

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Several years ago, it was decided that we would have a Fall Gathering …the pumpkins were laid by the door with care, a big dried hydrangea wreath was hung on the door, about two dozen hand painted invitations were sent out with fear and trepidation- too many- too few? IMG_0806

The menu plan was for a heavy laden table with Southern favorites and a few new twists on old standbys. The key word for this Gathering was abundance, but please remember our Southern Mothers believe in small yeast rolls and biscuits– no Cat Head Biscuits here! The Menu would need to be a portable feast, a harvest buffet of regional flavors, with enough food to feed big strapping men, dainty ladies and Sherman’s Army!

The Gathering Menu

Sliced Ham in Millie Ray’s® Rolls with a Spicy Mustard. Fried Chicken Nuggets in fragrant Marshall’s Biscuits® served with pickle slices, Tiny Orange Yeast Rolls thinly iced and laced with Orange Zest alongside Cheddar Cheese Cubes

Low Country Pickled Shrimp, Sweet and Salty Caramelized Bacon, Hot Sausage Balls and Nachitoches Meat Pies

Yellow Squash Frittata Squares, Crispy Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds.

Celery and Carrot Sticks with Fresh Cucumber Rounds. Hot Fresh Spinach Dip. Cheese Straws, Toasted Pecans, Parched Peanuts, Assorted Crackers and Big Apple Shaped Cheese Balls, one in Cheddar, one in Bleu.

Fried Peach Pies, Mimi’s Pound Cake with Strawberries and a Big Glass Bowl filled with Banana Pudding.

 Iced Tea, Lemon Slices, Light Beverages, White Wines and Coffee.

For weeks with an enormous amount of help and encouragement from a few friends, decisions were cussed and discussed.   Silver was polished and shared, linen napkins were rolled, coolers and freezers were shared, the table layout was made and remade. The decorations were easy, what had been planned for the Thanksgiving table, shown above- would be put to use for the Gathering as well.

What I discovered was this- before all of the big holiday entertaining commences in winter, Fall can be the perfect time to gather friends.

 There is one exception- don’t have a gathering during an SEC game or even on weekends for that matter! This gathering was held early on a Wednesday night- from 6-8. Since most of the guests are of a certain age, a weeknight is actually a great time to gather. And even though the house is small- more than 2 dozen guests milled around the cottage. The screen porch was used to great advantage- it is customary in the South for beverages of a certain strength to be served separately from the main food and beverages. The screen porch was a perfect place for the restorative wines and ales, alongside parched peanuts and cozy shawls img_1438

 After a work day or a heavy meal, there is nothing more restorative for the St. Simon Peter’s, Our Lady of the Lake, and even the First United’s- than a hot cup of coffee or a restorative nip swirled in a glass with crisp air and good friends. I hope a good time was had by all, we sure enjoyed having a Fall Gathering! image

Happy Fall, y’all, Camellia

*Most of the photographs used are mine-the hand painted invitations were done by me- however the pics of the silver tray and silverware were found on AOL images and may be copyrighted. And I would be very remiss if I did not thank Paula and Alyson for making the Gathering a success- there was enough food and the guests were completely delightful!!!l

Millie Ray’s Rolls® are made in Birmingham Alabama! Marshall’s Biscuits® are made in Mobile Alabama !

Happy Halloween, y’all!

 

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From the backroads of Alabama, a precious scene, harvested just in time to wish all of the little Trick or Treat-ers a Safe and Happy Halloween!

Love y’all, Camellia

I’ve been saving this adorable photograph by Jeremy Miniard for your viewing pleasure during Fall Festivals and Halloween! The photograph is the sole property of Jeremy and not to be reproduced without permission.  Please visit Jeremy’s site at www.jeremy-miniard.fineartamerica.com  He sent me more beauties we hope to share with you soon!

Fall Wreaths…

imageFall Wreaths are an essential transition from summer to harvest, on Southern doors and interiors you will find wreaths and arrangements gleaned from yards and gardens. From the cradle to the grave, Southern ladies insist that:

  •  Knowing a good florist is essential, especially if you don’t happen to have a green thumb or know anyone who does. Please do this by recommendation- if you visit a florist that bases the business on lots of glitter, tinted carnations, specializes in funeral wreaths shaped like golf carts, makes holiday arrangements with canned snow and plastic snowmen  or Horror of all Horrors mostly uses artificial flowers– with as much grace as you can muster, tiptoe backwards out of that shop and run- don’t walk away. Resolve to never darken the door of that place again! It can only lead to social embarrassment.
  • Being in a Garden Club trains ladies in the fine arts of arranging flowers, especially yard flowers for their homes. Being on the Altar Committee of your church is a labor of love and if you have a member who makes an offering of artfully designed yard flowers all the better. Working Garden Club Holiday Houses is not for the faint of heart- it is as rigorous as SEC Spring Training! Beautification of your community is considered  an act of love and devotion as long as you do it with a stylish garden hat and matching gloves; are able to merely glow and grow, without breaking a sweat!
  • The very height of a Southern lady’s repertoire is to actually grow flora and fauna in her yard to use for home décor and special events. Any time there are especially auspicious occasions you can find florally talented ladies roaming all over yards that are known to have seasonal specialties, snipping and trimming from yard to yard to get up enough for a yard arrangement, which is highest form of floral gentility, good taste and refinement.

Fall Wreaths are part of the genteel Southern tradition. If you don’t actually have a granddaddy who owns a cotton farm, well- at least you can round up some cotton to make a Fall Wreath to grace your interiors or front doors. Cotton Wreaths are highly prized in Alabama. I fashioned my own wreath from cotton grown in the George Washington Carver Garden at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which was given to me as a gift from the gardeners. I had my husband go to an actual cotton farm and chop cotton for me so that friends and family could have their own! Be sure and leave the ’empty cotton bolls’ on the stems- they are called Southern Stars!wreath

Fine gentlemen consider it a privilege to grow Muscadines even if the deer eat all of them before anyone gets enough to actually make a pot of jelly! Southern men might dream of Muscadine Wine but he knows the ladies will appreciate the vines for their Fall Wreaths, even if his vines aren’t successful that year. img_0120-2

Herb boutonnieres are a wonderful addition to weddings and funerals- Granddaughters of a large family I know, fashioned herb badges for family members- Rosemary for Remembrance and Lavender for Love and Devotion, for the visitation and then a few months later, they planted Rosemary and Lavender behind the gravestone. I know one lady who knew that a prominent member of the community would be wall to wall with funeral stands on his behalf. She decided to cut and wrap a massive arm bouquet of fresh rosemary to be presented to the widow at the gravesite- it was a sweet gesture of remembrance. Fall Wreaths can be made from fresh herbs and hung to dry for snipping later, Southerners love this idea. I admit to having fresh basil drying in my pantry as we speak, shamefully I did not fashion it into a Fall Wreath. However, months before a nightly nip in the air arrived, I cut and filled big galvanized tubs with hydrangeas which are drying for Fall Wreaths and filling baskets here at Camellia’s Cottage.

imageThis weekend, get outside and wind up some Vines, some of the most beautiful Fall Wreaths I have ever seen were made from Kudzu vines! Morning glory vines also make wonderful wreaths… even cuttings of long flexible shrub branches wind up in a quirky sort of way….the wreath on top of the white chest at the end of this post was made from Fresh Gardenia shrub growth- it just happened to dry into a glorious shade of brown, I added cotton to it, to make a Fall Wreath. It is one of my favorite wreaths. You can also purchase grapevine wreaths and stick rose hips, herbs or dried pods and berries along with magnolia leaves for a stunning Fall Wreath- you don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot of decorating magic. Go ahead and embrace the imperfection of yard finds. And please remember the advice from our Southern ladies- Yard flowers are the most loving, because they are a part of who we are.

Love y’all, Camellia. image

All of these less than perfect photographs are shamefully mine.

Candlelight Vigil…

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. A Candlelight Vigil was held in my hometown on October 11, near beautiful Logan Martin Lake, at the serene Chapel in the Pines.  Another Candlelight Vigil was held at Birmingham’s historic Linn Park on October 18. Both Candlelight Vigils not only heightened awareness, but honored those who have lost their lives through Domestic Violence. YWCA of Central Alabama sponsored both of these emotional events. It is difficult to believe that in 2015- 32 victims were killed, 267 were raped and 3500 were assaulted by someone who had said, ‘I love you’, right here in Alabama. Those are just the ones that were reported, many more assaults have surely gone unreported. The toll this type of violence takes on homes, children and communities is enormous. I am very honored to serve on a steering committee which serves women and children right here in my hometown. cadlelight-vigil-for-web

The Warning Signs which can lead to Domestic Violence are important to recognize so that lives may be spared.

  • Verbal and Emotional Abuse– Public and private language intended to demean, humiliate, embarrass and damage the self esteem of the victim. Name calling, shameful nicknames, mind games, coarse references about the image of the victim.  Displays or gestures of disgust which result in a loss of confidence. Abusers are overly sensitive to criticism and may react with verbal attacks An abuser may challenge the mental state of the victim, often with accusations of mental illness.
  •  Intimidation– Actions by the abuser instill Fear. Loud coarse language, controlling with the eyes or hand gestures, abusing household pets or animals, breaking the victim’s possessions, reckless behavior, uncontrollable rage and even open display of weapons  near the victim.  Abusers know how to hurt a victim privately, bruising where it doesn’t show.
  • Isolation– The abuser seeks to control who his victim talks to, screens television and reading materials. An abuser finds ways to restrict his victim’s movements, often insisting  on being with her. Controls where the victim goes, may even restrict the use of vehicles and  any forms of communication such as cell phones or social media. The abuser insists on exclusiveness with the victim, restricting friendships and relationships with family. An abuser controls his victim – always using jealousy to justify any abusive activity.
  • Economic Abuse– The victim is prevented from any form of economic independence such as getting a job, he makes the victim ask for money- closely controls family funds so the victim believes escape is impossible. Among other obvious problems, economic abuse undermines confidence and creates hopelessness. An abuser also may withhold gifts or lavish gifts to justify his actions.
  • Extreme Jealousy– constantly asking where the victim has been, checking cellphones and social media- actively checking for any sign of cheating, being suspicious if the victim has informed others of the abuse.
  • Blaming Others – commonly saying ‘It’s your fault’, ‘You shouldn’t have provoked me’, ‘You made me hit you, do this’ etc.
  • Using Manipulation or Threats– Using position or power to intimidate the victim, controls the victim by repeatedly threatening to leave, telling her that she is an unfit mother or saying that no one will ever believe her. The abuser threatens to commit suicide and worse threatens to kill the victim or the children.

This is just a sampling of the warning signs that can escalate violence in the homes. This is a dark subject- one I wish we would never have to discuss, however the number of lives lost so far in 2016, more than double that of 2015. ‘YWCA is On a Mission to Save Lives’. I am proud to be a small part of this mission. I would encourage you to visit the YWCA Central Alabama website for more information. candlelight-vigil-2016-ywca

I would also direct you to a wonderful blog- by a beautiful young mother and so much more- Amanda@overcomeabuse , who bravely shares her struggle with abuse and is one of my blogging heroes! Amanda keep inspiring us all!

Please, if you recognize any of the warning signs– make sure you know the location and number of a Certified Shelter or Crisis Hotline in your area. Just these two things can help save your life or the lives of others. Keep these numbers handy in case you run across someone you feel may need these services.

I am indebted to Communications Director, YWCA Central Alabama, Scottie Vickery for the wonderful photographs of our local event, for the information gleaned from the YWCA e-newsletter this month, and to so many others who are working tirelessly everyday to make this world a safer place to live and re-build lives.  Remember, a House is not a Home unless everyone in it feels safe. Let us never get weary of doing all we can to help.

Love y’all, Camellia

Football Food…

If you live in the South, chances are almost 100% that you are an SEC football fan, and not just a fan but whole hog– a rabid dog fan for your team. SEC football fans despise any team that has beaten their team even though it was 30 years ago, we have long memories and don’t cotton to folks who aren’t with our team. Whole families who are split in their loyalties, are barely on speaking terms during football season- if a couple happens to have divided loyalties, they rarely even sit in the same room to watch football, particularly if those teams are playing each other. And another thing, please don’t get married during football season, or at least check the schedule to make sure there are no conflicts! I know, it’s crazy! However, one thing we all agree on is – Football Food. Often Football Food is determined by which team you support- for instance here we always have Golden Flake® potato chips and Barber’s® Onion Dip because, they are considered lucky and both products are made right here in Alabama! I made ahead some Football Food today. This recipe would not have been sanctioned until we got past the Tennessee game because the food is Orange-  it would be bad luck to serve the other team’s colors on the day we were playing them! But this week, there will be no Big Orange! Football Food like this Fall Cheese Ball-is easy and delicious-and just adorable don’t you think?image

This was a quick snapshot- on Game Day, I would plank it as the food stylists are calling-putting food out on a board with crackers, marinated olives, pickles, grapes- whatever you choose. It’s a new style I personally love. This Cheese Ball is crying out for apple slices, don’t you think? I prefer to make two cheese balls (about the size of a baseball per cheese ball) from this recipe. I keep one chilled and serve one- to keep things neat. You can also make one large apple shaped cheese ball from our very own recipe if you are serving a crowd:

Camellia’s Cottage Fall Cheddar Cheese Ball

  • 1 – 8 ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1- 8 oz block of cream cheese

Let cheeses come to room temperature, then add:

  • 2 cloves of garlic- chopped fine
  • 3/4 cup of chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Mix until smooth, shape into either one large ball or two small balls, making an indentation to simulate an apple. Chill until firm. Meanwhile cut a small branch or two (be sure to clean the bottom part of the branch with vinegar and let dry). Sprinkle the tops of the apple shaped cheese ball with mild paprika and carefully insert stick before cheese ball comes to room temperature. Before serving, allow cheese ball to come to room temperature. Serve with crackers or apple slices or even a puddle of strawberry jam. Enjoy!

Whether it’s Football Food or a Fall Celebration, this cheddar cheese ball is great and as an added bonus, the cheese ball wrapped tightly, freezes well. This week, I hope your SEC team wins unless they’re playing mine!

Love y’all, Camiella

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Fall…

imageIn the South, Fall is usually the shortest season of the year. Summer starts cheerfully in May, then trudges until the end of October. The new magazines are Showoffs with Fat Pumpkins, artful pictures of Fall Fashion, even Autumn inspired Apple and Pumpkin Pies- to be honest, I never say Autumn and I’d take a Sweet Potato Pie over Pumpkin any day! The magazines show Fall Home Décor and  stunning photographs of Fall Foliage- it just galls me, here we sit sweltering in the heat! That glow Southern women are known for comes from the heat and humidity that stays with us almost all year round…By Fall? We pine for, we long for cool crisp air- we would dearly love to put on fall fashions, except you cannot go outside – you must be inside under the air conditioner to wear your cute sweater set and boots. The Weather Channel gets a huge Southern audience in the Fall for Hurricanes, First Frost Dates or Scorching Temperatures in the high 80’s. Folks just start runnin’ for the hills.  Honestly a Fall like this one is enough to make you willing to give up Iced Tea for one cool breeze! At SEC football games, it has been so hot the players had to have IV’s for dehydration! Alabama often has stunning Fall Color- that means the leaves have turned pretty colors, just not here, this year.  This Fall is one of those curl up and die years; giving us the sense that the yard is saying –‘Ok, ya’ll,  I give up, I’ve had it with this heat, I’m taking a nap.’  I got up my courage, and decided in the last few days to root around and see what I could find in the Yard and the store that said- Fall.

 

I found Green Figs that are still ripening, my second crop of Arugula and believe it or not  heat resistant Tomato vines have some tiny green ones growing- even though deer had a snack on the top leaves, we’re still picking Jalapenos, they’re hot too. A few Zinnias are getting the last word with Green Envy®. I have begun to get out a few Fall decorations like the Cotton Wreath and the little carved wood leaf man, which was a sweet gift from a dear friend…

Braving the heat, those sweet Dogwoods have fat Red Berries with crumpled brown and yellow leaves sidled up to a few cheerfully green but limp leaves. I love to find Pinecones which are dropping in disgust now. At the grocery store, there was a happy looking bin of Tiny Pumpkins and Apples which survived the trip over to Alabama. We have  Beekeepers and even more Pecan Growers-…listen, we don’t say Pee-Can…that’s something Yankees came up with- we say Pa-cahns.  The abandoned Hat Nest looked sweet on a bench. Hydrangeas, enough to fill more than two large galvanized tubs- are drying inside now. The much aligned Golden Rod is shyly showing up. Our ‘Mums for Music’ are popping open their Red Blooms in perfect harmony.

 

Right here in the Yard at Camellia’s Cottage- (we don’t say lawn in the South- it’s yard, front or back) there are subtle signs that Fall is here… All in all, I felt a bit better about our no-show curl up and die Fall when I put together all I had found…I’d love to hear what’s going on in your yard…and how you’re celebrating Fall! Meanwhile, I’ll sip some iced tea and keep up under the air conditioning! Oh me…

Love y’all, Camellia

*Eden Elementary is a local school which raises funds for their Music Program by selling wonderful Mums in the Fall and Ferns in the Spring- we love supporting music programs for children!

How we talk…

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With the advent of air conditioning, the South experienced an influx of Yankees, who either couldn’t understand a word we said or made so much fun of how we talk, that in some circles, Southern folks are still trying to cover up how we talk by using big words or dropping the use of our distinctively regional language. The one thing most of us have not been able to effectively erase is our accent or the way we put words together. I’ve decided it’s the humidity- which naturally slows the speech and causes us to drop the ‘g’ at the end of our words. It would be impossible to try to de-code how we talk in one short lesson without going off on impossible tangents. Why, the average human being would be fit to be tied. So in an effort to de-tangle some of it- Y’all, must understand that while you might think- let’s ‘Go down South’ – If you live here? Nothin’ is down- it’s all up.

  • We wake up, get up, then we make up the bed
  • We load up the washing machine, wash up the dishes, then put it all up.
  • We clean up, sweep up, mop up, spruce up and even perk up the house.
  • We roll up our hair, get dolled up, made up, rigged up and dressed up, before we go Uptown
  •  We gas up the car, pick up Momma, the kids or the cleaning ( we don’t say laundry, just like we don’t say toilet, it’s  a commode, y’all- just don’t leave the lid up!)

Everything is up, even when you’re acting up. Let me give you an example:

‘I’m not making this up, ever since Bobby Joe set up that wide screen TV, he  hasn’t been worth shootin’- Tammy Faye teared up tellin’ it. She said since football season started up– Bobby Joe stays up late with his twin brothers William and Billy, they get likkered  uprevved up, hoopin’ and hollerin’ loud enough to wake up the dead. acting like a bunch of hoodlums! When the game’s over, they leave Bobby Joe sleepin’ on the sofa. Before Tammy Faye can get the house cleaned back up– those boys start up all over again the next weekend. Bobby Joe was always just precious. (Precious is another way of sayin’- At least his momma loves him!)- I tell you, Tammy Faye was wound up tighter than a tick! I like ta-died when she told it right up in Sunday School! We all said, ‘Bless your heart, Tammy Faye, you’ve laid up crowns in heaven.’ Of course we were thinkin’ she needs to get wound up and throw a full blown conniption fit- Never underestimate the value of a conniption fit di-rect from an thoroughly fed up Southern woman!

Oh law, don’t get me started up- I hope you’ve laughed a little and been enlightened about how we talk… and remember- like all good Southern stories, this one is part Truth, part Myth and part Outright Lies…

Love y’all, Camellia

 *AOL image may be subject to copyright

Winter Mystery Vacation?

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There’s nothing like dreamin’ and armchair travel. It was cool this morning, the screen porch beckoned-coffee in hand, I was pondering where to go on our winter family vacation. October is not too early to plan it. I’ve been schemin’ and coming up with plans I hope will be fun, in cold climes or warm. The porch seemed like a good place to think about it; the leaves haven’t turned, some leaves have just curled up and died. That’s the South for you.We like travelling in the United States, there’s nothing like America, y’all!   Last summer was the first time I planned a Mystery Vacation, no one knew except me, where we were going! I’ve added a few destinations for the Winter Holidays. I thought I’d let you in on it; maybe you can help me plan another Mystery Vacation, this time from Santa!

  • Seattle: There’s the City Tour by bus. Seattle seems to come alive at night during the holidays with Snowflake Lane at Bellevue Square; fake snowflakes fall and crazy elves climb up platforms all around the shops. Then there is the Space Needle, the Pike Place Market where they throw fish, Dale Chihuly’s blown glass, Winterfest at Seattle Center, the house boat village where ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ was filmed, not to mention all of those lovely coffee shops! Add a day trip to Victoria or Vancouver by Ferry, perhaps go to Butchart Gardens which looks amazing even in Winter.
  • Charleston: A vastly different place-though chilly to us, it is still just jacket weather during the holidays. There are carriage rides and wonderful food, fountains, historic churches and plantations, like Middleton. Just a little over two hours away, by car, we could take a day trip to Savannah, for sure stopping by Gretsch® Guitar Shop to see our friend Fred Gretsch, then passing through Beaufort on our way back.
  • Los Angeles: There’s a Hollywood studio tour, the Walk of Stars, all those Movie Star Mansions, Venice Beach with a ride on the iconic Ferris Wheel, a Whale Watching Tour from the harbor, not to mention Santa Monica pier, beautiful Santa Barbara and more…
  • Louisville is a city I’ve been musing about- with a day trip to Lexington, taking in the gorgeous countryside of the Bourbon Trail, going out to Churchill Downs and eating a Hot Brown  at the beautiful Brown Hotel.
  • Williamsburg is always on my Christmas travel list- the historic Inn is where Queen Elizabeth and other heads of state have stayed, the Village Homes and Governor’s Palace is decked out for Christmas. Over by William and Mary there is a small French restaurant where waiters walk around with a huge terrines ladling out Chocolate Mousse. Who could pass up the Trellis restaurant where Julia Child worked with the pastry chef to come up with the famous ‘Death by Chocolate’? Then, top off the trip with a day tour of Monticello in holiday dress.

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  • Philadelphia is another great place for a family trip. It looks very interesting and fun during the holidays. There is a very large exhibit in Reading Terminal Market of model trains, the iconic Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and as I understand it, the little cobblestone street where Betsy Ross lived comes alive during the holidays; best of all, eating the famous Phillie Cheesesteaks!
  • And finally, I have looked longingly at Fort Myers, we could visit the Winter Mansion of Henry Ford and the Laboratory and Winter Estate of Thomas Edison. The warm beauty of Captiva Island and Sanibel’s shell strewn beaches,the gorgeous homes of Naples would be terrific day trips from Fort Myers which is warm and beautiful during Christmas.

So, which would you choose? I’m open for suggestions, there may other places better to explore. Where would you want to go? But shh…this is a Secret Santa Surprise! October is not too early to plan a Winter Mystery Vacation! As soon as the destination is decided, I’ll just give them hints bit by bit and see if they can guess…I know we’ll have fun wherever we go!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Images used were marked- Public Domain from AOL images